Top Tips for Sewing with Minky Fabric
While I would never claim to be a great sewer (or really, even a good one), I do enjoy sewing and expanding my skills. My seams may not always be straight, and I have far too many unfinished projects sitting in my closet, but it’s something I’ve really comes to enjoy.
And if there is one type of fabric I have a love-hate relationship with, it’s minky. Minky is oh-so-soft, and it makes for amazing blankets, but boy, is it hard to sew! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to start projects with minky, only to have to start over again. Frustrating!
However, through a lot of trial and error, I feel like I’ve finally mastered the art of sewing with minky. In fact, I recently sewed two blankets with minky, and they both turned out perfectly. So if you are looking for some tips on how to successfully sew with minky, hopefully these will help!
First off, make sure you have good quality minky. To be honest, I haven’t met any bad minky, per say, I’ve definitely used really good minky. My favorite minky that I’ve bought was from Pick Your Plum. They don’t always have it, but when they do, be sure to get some. It’s a great price, they have a variety of colors, and it is so soft.
I recently made a baby blanket with some of it, and I’m in the process of making Jack a quilt with some of it as well. Beyond that, you could shop the sales from Fabric.com or from JoAnn’s to get a good deal. I’d never pay full price, though! Amazon has a GREAT variety.
Shake it Off
No, I’m not referring to Taylor Swift’s new single (though, I admit, it is rather catchy!) As soon as you pick up your minky fabric to work with it, you will likely notice that it sheds — a lot. I always feel like we have to vacuum and wash our clothes after I use minky, because it really gets everywhere. While you are sewing, you want to eliminate as much of the fluff as possible because otherwise, it might get stuck in your machine.
I recommend either going outside, or holding the minky over a large trash can, and shake off as much of the extra fluff as possible. I actually run my hands through it several times as well to help with ridding it of excess. It definitely makes sewing easier, as well as cleanup.
Cut with Rotary Cutter
If you don’t have a rotary cutter and you are wanting to use minky…just go buy one. It’s not even worth it to try and cut minky with regular scissors. My rotary cutter is one of my favorite craft and sewing tools, and I don’t know what I did before I got it. If you get a rotary cutter, be sure to invest in a self-healing cutting mat as well.
Anyways, cutting minky with a rotary cutter is a lot easier, and it makes for cleaner lines.
Don’t Use Thick Fabrics With It (And Prewash them!)
Minky fabric is already very soft and somewhat thick. I’ve found that using it with a less-thick fabric makes sewing a little bit easier. My favorite accompanying fabric is a cute flannel print! Minky fabric also doesn’t shrink, so you don’t need to worry about prewashing it. However, the fabric you will use it with most likely does need to be prewashed, so don’t forget to do that before you sew them together!
Leave Excess Minky Around Edges
I have found that having a little bit extra of minky sticking out, beyond the other fabric, makes it a little easier to sew. I wouldn’t leave several inches or anything but maybe a 1/2 inch or so. Minky is notorious for stretching as you use it, and while my next tip will help with that immensely, there may still be some pulling. I remember with my first minky sewing project, I finished two sides, only to realize that the fabric was not even at all, and I could barely finish it with the amount of minky that had pulled away from the edge.
Pin, Pin, and Pin Again!
This is probably the best tip I have — pin like crazy. I’m talking, put one pin right after another. It takes forever, but it will save you a ton of headaches. I would recommend pinning it so there’s enough room to sew without hitting the pins, because believe me, the last thing you want to worry about is taking out pins while you try and sew with minky. Just make sure you take them all out in the end! I personally prefer sewing with steel pins with colored heads, however, the plain dressmaker pins are easier to sew around and over.
Slow & Steady
Sometimes when I’m sewing, I seem to get in this mindset that I’m in a race. A race against who, you may ask? I have no idea. But I feel like the faster I get the project done, the better. Sadly, this has never really worked out very well for me, and I’ve finally started to realize that I’m not in a race! I think going slow when sewing anything is important but especially with minky.
Put Minky on the Bottom
This tip is contrary to some other advice I’ve heard about sewing with minky, however, I have found that it is much easier to be in control of the minky and make sure it doesn’t stretch too much when you have the minky as the bottom layer. There have been times when I’ve been sewing with it on top, and the fabric on the bottom had gotten pulled away from the minky, and my whole project got messed up. Combined with leaving a little extra of the minky fabric all the way around the project, sewing with the minky on the bottom makes it a lot easier to sew.
Use a Wide Seam Allowance
I recommend using a seam allowance of about 1/2″.
Walking Foot (if possible)
I actually haven’t used a walking foot (though I do have one), but this apparently helps feed the fabric through more evenly. You can find one specifically for your machine here.
Don’t Iron Minky
Don’t learn this the hard way — irons and minky don’t mix. High heat from irons ruin the nap. Fortunately, minky doesn’t really need to be ironed, but if for some reason you need to, place it face down on a towel and use a very low heat or steam it. Iron any fabric that you are using with the minky before you attach them together.
Pay Attention to Nap
It is much easier to sew Minky when it is parallel to the selvage — it will stretch when it’s perpendicular. When you are first getting your minky out, just pay attention to the nap before you start pinning!
Clean Out Sewing Machine (be careful during sewing as well)
Even if you are vigilant about trying to get all the excess fluff off before you start sewing, you will inevitably still end up with some strewn around your work area afterward. Because of this, it will likely get down into your machine at some point. Just be sure to do a thorough cleaning job of your machine (especially around the needle area) afterwards. Otherwise, you might end up with some jamming.
Know Your Machine
I wouldn’t suggest using minky if you are using your machine for the first time. Every machine is a little different, and while the basic fundamentals of sewing are always the same, machines can take a bit of time to get to used to. I personally LOVE my Computerized Brother sewing machine. I got it a few years ago at Costco, and it works really well. I love that I don’t have to use a foot pedal (though it comes with one in case you like being in control), and it has just about everything I need. With that said, I started out with an entry-level Brother sewing machine (great for beginners), and this one did take some adjustment. I love it though, so if you are in the market for a new one, I highly recommend it.
I hope these tips help! If you have any additional advice, please share it! IF you love love Joann’s Fabric like I do (love their minky!), make sure you read this post on the best secrets for shopping at Joann’s Fabric!
I have to thank Sew Muchado and Fabric-Mill, because I found several tips from them to be very useful, and I did reiterate some of them here in this post. Be sure to check out their posts for more great advice!
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